Are Dentists Killing Sex?
The dental field in the USA is broken. With each passing year, costs increase and the number of people insured decrease. Over 100 million individuals don’t see a dentist because they simply cannot afford it — instead they suffer through pain and inability to enjoy daily meals. Even with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), individuals have not seen a rise in dental insurance coverage. The ACA seems set on only addressing medical concerns rather than dental concerns. In fact, 23 private health insurance plans exclude dental coverage completely.
This results in terrible dental health leading 25% of seniors over the age of 65 to lose their teeth and 33% to have tooth decay. These stats are worrisome but perhaps even more worrisome is the fact that 8,000 individuals die in the USA because of delayed detection of various oral and pharyngeal cancers.
That’s right. Lack of dental care results in death. These problems have been compounding for years. So, how do we go about fixing the dental system and when will we get to the part about sex?
We will get to dentists and how they are related to one’s sex life. But now let’s think about crisis in dentistry, the primary step should be to acknowledge the problem. Many reports come out on a yearly basis claiming that there is a growing need for dentists. As of now there are only around 190,000 practicing dentists within the United States. Not only does this not meet the current demand for dentists, but also this number is largely centered in suburbs despite the need for dentists being in urban and rural areas. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), we would need to increase practicing dentists by 9,500 to satisfy the shortage of dentists across the country. Along with a shortage of dentists, the scheduling of appointments is another aspect that is contributing to the failing dental system. Approximately 10% of appointments are cancelled, significantly adding to costs. In an already costly system where lack of supply already drives up prices, dentistry becomes even more expensive if you consider the fact that one missed appointment per day over the span of a year can add up to $20,000 to $70,000 in costs. These costs are often passed on to the consumers, who in this case are individuals who desperately need proper dental care.
Of course, to properly correct the problem we must also listen to the existing 190,000 dentists and understand their concerns as well. Not only is there too much competition as dentists tend to cluster in similar areas, but also there is pressure by large payers to set flat fees. Both of these issues raise costs of dental work drastically as dentists end up raising prices in order to have funds to compete with others and in order to cover unexpected costs that are not always accounted for with flat fees. There is also the “Walmart Phenomenon” that dentists face challenges as dental corporations choose only to hire younger, less experienced dentists as the large dental conglomerates can then pay these young dentists less. This only serves to further drive up costs for more established clinics as they must charge higher prices to remain in business. The dental system is clearly failing, and a remedy must be created soon.
Many entrepreneurs believe that the best solution would be a platform that guarantees quick dental appointments and reimburses for cancelled appointments. Not only would this save money for clinics, but also this would allow patients to book quick appointments.
Another solution is to help individuals locate dentists in rural areas because a 50% savings on dental procedures can be as close as an hour drive away.
User friendly platforms should promote price transparency by allowing dentists to provide custom quotes to patients. By not having to give a flat fee, dentists are able to charge more accurately and benefits are passed on to both dentists and patients. Costs are driven down for both parties as patients and dentists connect over procedures, price points, and even locations. Creating this new dental travel economy will help balance out dental providers among groups of patients and drive down costs for everyone. Here’s to 2016 being the year that the dental industry undergoes a much needed revamp in the way the industry functions. And yes, a great dentist who can help people achieve a beautiful smile will definitely contribute to one’s confidence, thus sex. There are great dentists around you who will charge you thousands less, go find them, fix your smile and rock’n roll!
- Sarah Childress. Senior Digital Reporter, FRONTLINE Enterprise.
- David Heitz. Healthline News.
- Ed Rabinowitz. Dentist’s Money Digest.
- Robin Gelburd. President of FAIR Health, Inc.
- Gordon J. Christensen, DDS, MSD, PhD, founder and director of Practical Clinical Courses (PCC) in Utah.
- Report from Chairman Bernard Sanders Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions February 29, 2012.
- Health Resources and Services Administration [HRSA]. Shortage Designation: Health Professional Shortage Areas and Medically Underserved Areas/Populations. Accessed February 7, 2012.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. Oral Health: Preventing Cavities, Gum Disease, Tooth Loss, and Oral Cancers; 2011.
- Kaiser Family Foundation [KFF]. “State Health Facts.” Professionally Active Dentists, February 23, 2012.
- National Association of Dental Plans, Dental Benefits Improve Access to Dental Care; 2009.
- Jen McGuire. Dental Economics.